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Worlds first all electric plane takes off.

kelvedon

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An all electric DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver with a 750-horsepower (560 kW) magni500 propulsion system has taken a short test flight with six passengers in Canada, marking, what is hoped is the beginning of all electric aircraft. The DHC2 currently only has a range of 160km using Lithium batteries.

 
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BAM1748

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Without detracting from this excellent effort, I don't think it's the first, there was that big floppy winged thing a couple of decades ago.
 

trooper

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Aren't we going to need a "propellor to jet" type of leap in battery technology to make this a realistic proposition?
 

kelvedon

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It would be interesting to see how much quieter they are. Would the propeller through the air be noisy? I was under the impression that a helicopter is noisier because of the speed of the blade tip as it cuts through the air ?
 

moa999

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Apart from very short flights just don't see electric batteries working for aircraft. The density and weight won't reduce enough.
Hydrogen as a fuel is more likely although will need proper fuel tanks
 
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33kft

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To be fair, nobody is claiming that this is the answer to long-haul jet passenger aircraft, in the same way a golf cart doesn't have to be able to move the same number of people as a tram for it to be viable. Having flown a few single-engine Cessnas in a past life and driving an electronic vehicle nowadays, I'd much rather a battery powered electric propulsion system to the dinky propeller engine of a 1970s plane that only needs a bit of water ingress into the fuel tank to have you landing on a freeway and considering that a lucky escape.

I'm not sure people realise how far along battery powered vehicles have come, but the extremely low maintenance involved alongside the mechanical simplicity, easy integration with electrical systems and reliability on par (or possibly above) internal combustion engines would surely make electric propulsion a solid candidate for lighter aircraft.
 

Vic

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Aren't we going to need a "propellor to jet" type of leap in battery technology to make this a realistic proposition?
And physics says there isn't such a leap available for batteries. They are a physical system subject to the limitations of the physical world. Computer chips improve because technology improvements allow smaller etch sizes etc. The power density of a lithium atom is fixed, technology cannot increase it.
 

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And physics says there isn't such a leap available for batteries. They are a physical system subject to the limitations of the physical world. Computer chips improve because technology improvements allow smaller etch sizes etc. The power density of a lithium atom is fixed, technology cannot increase it.
Reading earlier today about a supercapacitor that Lamborghini use in one of their hypercars. Does anyone have any idea of their weight to energy storage ratios compared with current battery technology?
 

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And physics says there isn't such a leap available for batteries. They are a physical system subject to the limitations of the physical world. Computer chips improve because technology improvements allow smaller etch sizes etc. The power density of a lithium atom is fixed, technology cannot increase it.

I can send a message to the other side of the world on a device that sits on my pocket. 50 years ago that was firmly in the realms of science fiction.

I drove home this afternoon in my very own car where I hit speeds of 100km/h, unthinkable 150 years ago.

I'm about to turn on a light in the room I'm in that's a little dark without looking for a candle first.

One of my favorite sayings is "nothing is impossible, we just haven't found a way to do it all yet".
 

woodborer

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And physics says there isn't such a leap available for batteries. They are a physical system subject to the limitations of the physical world. Computer chips improve because technology improvements allow smaller etch sizes etc. The power density of a lithium atom is fixed, technology cannot increase it.

Future batteries don't have to be lithium. . . .
 

33kft

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I would also suggest that processors aren't the best example to use - adding transistors used to be the goal but now with moore's law and thermodynamic limits it is much more about optimizing the energy and heat dissipation than it is about adding another 1 nanometer transistor to the die.

Once upon a time it used to be that the next generation of cpu die would be multiples of times faster than the prior. We don't really need that anymore - what we need is a smaller processor that fits better in our mobile device (or tiny PC) that can do more with less power and generates less heat, given it's more and more unlikely that it is not connected to a fixed power source. This does segway well into battery technology because on the same measure, batteries are half about what they hold and half about how they are managed.

BMS technology is all about keeping temperatures and conditions optimal for batteries, and understanding the parameters that those lithium atoms exist and operate under. No, you can't cram twice as much energy in but you can perhaps get twice as much out, when compared to an inefficient BMS at least.

When I drive my EV and go down a hill, regenerative braking limits my speed whilst feeding excess energy back into the battery, without needing to use friction brakes. I have a stable source of 400v feeding the car's electrical system across a bunch of cells which are managed by a very intelligent computer. It acts as an electrical bus for what is an electric device, albeit with wheels. I am not suggesting that there is a perpetual motion machine here, but smart engineers might identify situations where, for example, turbines might be used to generate energy from wind that would otherwise simply act as an opposing force in flight. Batteries could provide a common electrical bus with built-in capacity buffer that could be charged from green sources pre-flight and charged through combinations of hydrogen fuel cells and turbines in flight, to provide a (possibly) safer and more diverse energy platform.

We always imagine the next vehicle to look a lot like the last, yet electric cars are starting to heavily deviate from those of the past. Gone are the grilles and front engine bays and even dashboard clusters (in the Tesla Model 3 for example). The cybertruck is an ugly but timely example of engineering which ignores the legacy car format in favour of an electric car design. Aircraft designs will just as likely change to accommodate new technology into the future. I don't think it's half the leap people think it is to see large batteries integrated into future plane designs the way that today's designs are extremely computer-centric. It doesn't mean the plane will operate solely on a battery charged prior to take-off, all the charging may well be in flight (like a hybrid vehicle might do today).
 

moa999

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Hydrogen in particular i think pushes you towards delta wing style designs.

On a weight/energy basis it's better than JetFuel, but volume/energy isn't great, so ideally you want proper hydrogen vessels in which you can compress it - a wide aircraft under which you can fit multiple cylindrical hydrogen vessels.

A crash however would be even more explosive
 

Vic

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I can send a message to the other side of the world on a device that sits on my pocket. 50 years ago that was firmly in the realms of science fiction.

I drove home this afternoon in my very own car where I hit speeds of 100km/h, unthinkable 150 years ago.

I'm about to turn on a light in the room I'm in that's a little dark without looking for a candle first.

One of my favorite sayings is "nothing is impossible, we just haven't found a way to do it all yet".
Those are called technology improvements. Things that can be improved. 50 years ago (1969/1970) you could send a message to the otherside of the world on a device that sat on a desk called a telephone, or a computer that sat in medium sized room. You'll even notice I covered improving technology by reference to miniaturisation of computer chip spacing. The physics is the same, but the size of the circuit/transitor is smaller. Hence that desk telephone can now sit in your pocket.

The problem is that an atom is NOT subject to those same technology improvements. There are physical limitations, the power density of an atom cannot be improved.

Future batteries don't have to be lithium. . . .
The power density will still be limited by the physics of the atom. You're not moving from a Cray computer to an iphone for battery technology.

I see someone referenced Moore's Law. While not really a law, Moore's law cannot apply to batteries, because there is nothing you can do to change basic atomic physics. Efficiency improvements are similarly limited, this dream of new Moore's law super batteries is just that, A Dream.
 

harvyk

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Those are called technology improvements. Things that can be improved. 50 years ago (1969/1970) you could send a message to the otherside of the world on a device that sat on a desk called a telephone, or a computer that sat in medium sized room. You'll even notice I covered improving technology by reference to miniaturisation of computer chip spacing. The physics is the same, but the size of the circuit/transitor is smaller. Hence that desk telephone can now sit in your pocket.

The problem is that an atom is NOT subject to those same technology improvements. There are physical limitations, the power density of an atom cannot be improved.



The power density will still be limited by the physics of the atom. You're not moving from a Cray computer to an iphone for battery technology.

I see someone referenced Moore's Law. While not really a law, Moore's law cannot apply to batteries, because there is nothing you can do to change basic atomic physics. Efficiency improvements are similarly limited, this dream of new Moore's law super batteries is just that, A Dream.


Stating that "physics states we can't" is rather short sighted IMHO. There is so much about the physical universe, from the very tiny to the very big that we don't understand, or that our understanding is flawed. In science nothing is absolute.

We will no doubt continue to make discoveries, things that were once thought of as impossible will continue to become common place. Nothing states that battery technology won't be among those discoveries, and given the amount of research (and financial investments) which is currently going into battery technology there is certainly a chance we'll find gains to be had.
 

33kft

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There has been a lot of innovation over the last 15 years, just to get from the NiCad 30Wh/kg technology that we had then to the Lithium Ion chemistries we have today offering up to 260Wh/kg. There are cathode compounds with 6 times the current energy density and anode compounds (silicone, lithium) with over 10x the current energy densities offered by graphite, not to mention methods of assembling them into batteries which are more efficient than the approaches of today.

We are at the cray supercomputer end of the battery innovation scale today. The point about the CPU advances per Moore's Law is that they have reached physical limitations and the market demands efficiency and not transistor count or clock cycles today. Battery improvements are being driven by the ubiquity of portable devices since the release of the iphone. People forget that 15 years ago it was absolutely not common for us to travel around with portable computers running constantly. Back in 2004, laptops looked like this:


Have a look at what they used to measure the dimensions of this thing. This was not the era of high density battery technology. When the iphone was released in 2007, it had a 1400 mAh lithium battery and was 11.6mm deep. The latest iphone 11 has a 3110 mAh battery and is 8.3mm deep. These are both Li-Ion batteries. Calling this peak battery is a bit premature I think.
 

harvyk

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There has been a lot of innovation over the last 15 years, just to get from the NiCad 30Wh/kg technology that we had then to the Lithium Ion chemistries we have today offering up to 260Wh/kg. There are cathode compounds with 6 times the current energy density and anode compounds (silicone, lithium) with over 10x the current energy densities offered by graphite, not to mention methods of assembling them into batteries which are more efficient than the approaches of today.

We are at the cray supercomputer end of the battery innovation scale today. The point about the CPU advances per Moore's Law is that they have reached physical limitations and the market demands efficiency and not transistor count or clock cycles today. Battery improvements are being driven by the ubiquity of portable devices since the release of the iphone. People forget that 15 years ago it was absolutely not common for us to travel around with portable computers running constantly. Back in 2004, laptops looked like this:


Have a look at what they used to measure the dimensions of this thing. This was not the era of high density battery technology. When the iphone was released in 2007, it had a 1400 mAh lithium battery and was 11.6mm deep. The latest iphone 11 has a 3110 mAh battery and is 8.3mm deep. These are both Li-Ion batteries. Calling this peak battery is a bit premature I think.

It's interesting reading the review of that thing. Considering my current laptop can easily get well over 10 hours usage (the advertising material claims 17 hours), it's almost hard to imagine a "portable laptop" that can't get that far away from a power point.

Of course I've almost forgotten just how short-battery life laptops used to have. Even my 9 year old Vaio only got 5 to 6 hours because of the secondary battery pack (which made it very heavy, and run very hot thus requiring the cooling fan to be constantly running).
 

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